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Scratching the Chalkboard: Not a lot of good came from Houston

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The result was bad, but the play also left a lot to be desired

MLS: FC Dallas at Houston Dynamo Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

2020 has been brutal and Dallas has been spared either. After a sloppy turnover that led to Houston taking a 1-0 lead, Dallas then lost Matt Hedges to injury in the 33rd minute. But it appeared that 2020 was going to be kind to Dallas in the form of a red card and Dallas would have an entire half up a man. Instead of taking full opportunity of being up a man, Dallas couldn’t break down the Houston defense and gave up a soft penalty to lose 2-0.

Let’s start with the positive: Maurer and Ricaurte

As bad as losing 2-0 is to Houston, that scoreline would’ve been much worse had Jimmy Maurer not stood tall in goal and cleaned up a lot of the messes. Maurer could not be faulted for either goal. He’s done his job to keep Dallas in the games, but the defense has to start stepping up and do their part too.

Andres Ricaurte can straight up ball. I did like Luchi’s decision to swap Ricaurte and Bryan Acosta as it afforded Ricaurte more space to get on the ball, and Acosta was free to press higher and make late runs into the box.

Ricaurte’s passing chart vs HOU in the second half

Obviously being up a man for 45 minutes is going to make a player of Ricaurte’s talents look good. He pinged the ball fluidly and with efficiency for Dallas. Ricaurte is a sit back and rip you apart from the back kind of playmaker, but it does mean the players in front of him have to be more fluid and create passing lanes for themselves, something that’s been rather stagnant for a bit among the Dallas attack.

What’s Missing

This would’ve been the perfect game for a player like Paxton Pomykal to thrive in. Because Ricaurte sits back, the team also needs someone to take players on on the dribble and just go straight at the defense from time to time. This style of play puts defenses off balance, because if a player like Pomykal can dribble past one player, it automatically pulls a defensive player out of position to cover and would stretch defenses. Pomykal would’ve changed the outcome of this one.

Dallas got themselves in decent positions in the attack, but barring that one golden opportunity for Jesus Ferriera at the 70th minute, I can’t think of a single clear cut goal scoring opportunity that Dallas was able to create in 45 minutes.

FC Dallas shot attempts in the second half vs HOU

Dallas had 16 shots in the second half, but only four were on target and none challenged Houston keeper Marko Meric at all. Basically the offense was shambolic. 28 shots, 15 corners, 42 crosses, 72% possession and just 8 shots on target. For context, Houston had 6 shots on target.

The good now is that Dallas has games fast and heavy in October, so there’s not much time to sit on this performance. On the flip side, this team has another game coming up soon and with their play since the restart being what it is, that may not be a good thing.